Cyberbullying on social media: Its effects and how to stop it

Cyberbullying on social media: Its effects and how to stop it

March 22, 2024 privacy 0

With social media sites and apps at everyone’s fingertips, bullies have easy access to their victims. Cyberbullying can take many forms and even ruin someone’s reputation. Let’s look at how cyberbullying works, the ways it could hurt you, and what you can do to protect yourself. What is cyberbullying on social media? Cyberbullying on social media is a form of bullying that takes place on digital platforms, such as social media websites, messaging apps, discussion forums, or gaming platforms. Cyberbullying is aimed at scaring, upsetting, or shaming victims. Hidden behind a screen and a keyboard, cyberbullies can attack others in ways they probably wouldn’t dare to face-to-face. They might even make use of social media privacy issues to get their hands on private information and exploit it for their own purposes. A cyberbully on a mission can turn an innocent comment section under a post into an outlet for mean comments and personal attacks. Unfortunately, cyberbullying can escalate beyond spiteful words. Types of social media cyberbullying Cyberbullying ranges from threats and harassment to impersonating others online. Let’s look at the most common types of social media cyberbullying in more detail: Cyber harassment is the act of sending threatening, offensive, or malicious messages and targeting someone’s public social media accounts with hurtful images or information. Cyberstalking is similar to harassment but is usually more constant and relentless, with the victim receiving hurtful and threatening content on multiple digital platforms. A cyberstalker might flood you with anything from spam to serious threats. Roasting involves posting insults and offensive remarks about a person online. Trolling is what internet trolls do to others by posting comments to deliberately upset them. Outing someone means posting private information about someone on social media. It ranges from revealing someone’s sexual orientation to exposing their medical history online. Exclusion, often seen in children and teenagers, involves actively excluding the victim from social groups and activities, including online friend groups, chats, and forums. Impersonating someone online means creating fake social media accounts in that person’s name and pretending to be them in order to upset that person or ruin their reputation. Sextortion is a sinister form of cyberbullying that involves obtaining someone’s explicit content or personal information and threatening to make it public unless the victim pays up. Some of these cyberbullying types, if taken to an extreme, might be considered criminal behavior, punishable by law. You might have heard of doxxing – an aspect of cyberbullying that shares similarities with cyber harassment and identity theft. Doxxing is an act of publicly sharing private or sensitive information about an individual without their consent. {SHORTCODES.blogRelatedArticles} What are the effects of social media cyberbullying? Cyberbullying on social media can have long-lasting mental, emotional, and physical consequences for the individual at the receiving end. Constant threatening and hurtful content directed at a person might result in these or similar issues: Increased stress and anxiety. Changes in sleep or eating patterns. Headaches, stomachaches, and tense muscles. Feeling tired or exhausted. Feeling violated and powerless. Distrust in others. Low self-esteem. Depression. Self-harming thoughts. The behavior of a victim might also change due to stress, fear, and desperation that cyberbullying causes. The person attacked by an online bully might: Start avoiding social situations. Become afraid to leave their home. Perform poorly at school or work. Become secretive about their online activity. Stop using their devices. Delete social media accounts or change profiles. If you know someone who is displaying several of these emotional issues or behavioral changes, you may want to reach out and offer support. How do you prevent cyberbullying on social media? It’s impossible to fully prevent cyberbullying on social media if you are using social media platforms. However, you can take various steps to minimize the risk of cyberbullying. Be careful what you share. While it can be tempting to update your social following with every aspect of your life, information that was not meant to be shared can slip in unintentionally. Think twice before you post something. Select your online friends carefully. Don’t automatically accept anyone who wants to follow or befriend you on social media, especially if it’s a stranger. It’s best to keep your accounts private and only visible to friends you know offline. Don’t jailbreak your phone. A cyberbully with just enough tech knowledge will find it easier to break into your phone and hack your social media accounts or access your photos and videos if your phone is jailbroken. Protect your passwords. A tool like NordPass can create complex, top-tier strength passwords and autofill them for you. No cyberbully will be able to access your social media accounts by guessing the password. Use a personal data removal tool to remove sensitive private information from online platforms, reducing the likelihood of cyberbullies finding and using it for their dirty work. Children and teenagers are especially vulnerable to all forms of bullying, including cyberbullying. If you have youngsters in your family, familiarize yourself with tips on internet safety for teenagers and talk to them about cyberbullying. How do you stop cyberbullying on social media? Anyone can become a target of a cyberbully, so it’s better to be ready and know the steps you can take to stop cyberbullying on social media as soon as it begins. Do not engage with the cyberbully because responding can sometimes escalate the situation. Instead, document all instances of cyberbullying on social media. Make screenshots of the messages, comments, and any other content the cyberbully sends your way as evidence. Then, block the bully to prevent them from contacting you and report them to the website or app administrators so that they can take appropriate action and possibly block the bully from their platform. If the cyberbullying continues or includes serious threats, consider contacting local law enforcement or seeking legal advice. Finally, talk to someone you trust about what is happening to receive emotional support. If your emotional well-being is not improving, seek help from a mental health professional.

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